Israel acted with indignation across the political spectrum Friday after UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee voted to register the Old City of Chevron – including the Meares Hamachpela – under the “State of Palestine.”
At a secret ballot held at the Committee’s annual meeting in Krakow, Poland, the motion passed with 12 countries voting in favor, 3 against and six abstaining.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon labeled the vote a “moral blot.”
“This irrelevant organization promotes fake history,” he tweeted, adding, “The Jewish people’s glorious history in Israel started in Chevron. No UNESCO lies and fake history can change that.”
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely called the decision “a badge of shame for UNESCO, which time after time chooses to stand on the side of lies.”
Hotovely said the anti-Israel automatic majority at UNESCO “would also have passed a resolution that the sun rises in the west and not in the east. Israel will not surrender to historic distortion and will continue the fight against the bias of UN institutions regarding Israel.”
Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon condemned the vote as an “act of aggression” against the Jewish people.
“This attempt to sever the ties between Israel and Chevron is shameful and offensive, and eliminates UNESCO’s last remaining shred of credibility. To disassociate Israel from the burial grounds of the patriarchs and matriarchs of our nation is an ugly display of discrimination,” Danon said.
The vote came despite a report issued last Friday by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), an advisory body to the World Heritage Committee, which said it did not consider that the Jordanian sponsored request had “justified consideration of this property for the World Heritage List.” The ICOMOS report also said that the nomination had focused on a particular period of history and had given “little recognition” to the site’s Jewish history.
Israel had hoped that a secret ballot would enable it to enlist the eight-country bloc required to reject the motion in the 21-member assembly, however the final vote saw the same number vote against as had objected to a resolution earlier this week calling Israel’s presence in the Old City of Yerushalayim illegal, while only six countries abstained on Chevron versus eight who abstained on Yerushalayim.